26 February 2013

South Africa: Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi Led Severe Weather Awareness Road Show At the Disastrous Weather Prone Limpopo

press release

Today, Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister, Mme Rejoice Mabudafhasi together with the South African Weather Service, embarked on a severe weather awareness road show to engage all stakeholders on issues of weather, at Thohoyandou Town Hall, Vhembe District Municipality, in Limpopo.

The Deputy Minister kick started the road show by visiting the Maluleke, Ramudzuli and Makhubele families in Mphego village who were left destitute by the catastrophic flooding which recently swept bridges, damaged properties and caused deaths and injuries in the Vhembe District Municipality.

"Over the past years, South Africa has experienced an increase in severe weather such as flooding, lightning, thunder storms, tornadoes and in some areas excessive and unbearable heat, which caused damage to property and infrastructure as well as several incidences of loss of life. The climate records of the South African Weather Service show a growing trend in extreme weather events", said Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi.

During the Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, experts again confirmed their predictions that extreme weather events are expected to continue to increase with time. We therefore need to be able to adapt where these weather hazards are experienced.

Since government has elevated and prioritised warnings around weather related hazards, the South African Weather Service has reviewed its early warning system formally known as Severe Weather Warning System in collaboration with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Several steps were taken to put infrastructure in place to ensure better disaster preparedness.

However, early warning systems are only effective when all role players are integrated. The purpose of this community outreach event will therefore be not only to educate the community in general, but also to engage the relevant structures in ensuring a more effective severe weather information dissemination and also to plan better for disasters.

"We cannot prevent hazardous weather from happening, but we can take steps to prevent them from becoming disasters, or at least lessen the impact of these disasters. Members of the public need to take note of the daily weather forecasts and take steps for their safety when severe weather approaches", said Mabudafhasi.

Mabudafhasi further said "Disaster preparedness is important in the case of severe weather events, therefore, the South African Weather Service, in cooperation with disaster management, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, municipalities and other role players are reaching out to affected communities through a public awareness drive that will educate the public and empower them with the ability to act".

The severe weather road show will be rolled out in different provinces that were recently hit by weather disasters and at those areas that are forecast to be prone to excessive weather that may lead to disaster.

Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs

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